In July 2014, Melbourne Australia will host the 20th International AIDS Conference (IAC). It is the one of the biggest gatherings for those who work in the HIV field, policy makers, persons living with HIV (PLHIV) and others who are committed to ending the pandemic.
Sex workers the world over are working hard to address the impact of HIV/AIDS and to be included in policy discussions at a national, regional and global level. These activities have been extremely effective in addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS in the sex worker community even in the context of criminalisation and stigma. But much remains to be done. Sex workers and sex worker-led organisations are experts in community-based organisation, peer-led programmes, harm reduction and grassroots research and are therefore encouraged to apply for scholarships to attend this year’s IAC in Melbourne.
The International Scholarship Programme is open to everyone around the world working or volunteering in the field of HIV and AIDS. People from resource-limited settings and communities, researchers, young people, community activists and civil society representatives are strongly encouraged to apply. Abstract submissions to present about your work or research close on 6 February 2014. The closing date for scholarship applications is 13 February 2014, at midnight CET.
The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Stepping up the Pace’ to reflect the fact that the progress and advances have been made in a number of areas such as; substantial gains made in cure and vaccine research, growing numbers of people receiving antiretroviral treatment, falling rates of infection and more evidence on Treatment as Prevention. However, the progress has not been universal with many regions struggling to address their HIV epidemic among a backdrop of ever increasing infections and difficulties in funding, implementation and political challenges. This conference aims to energise and revitalise efforts to increase investments, collaborative research and political commitment. This can be done through controlled and coordinated action, including significant programme scale-up in resource-limited settings, commitment to evidence-based interventions, and more effective and intensive interventions in “hotspots” where Key Affected Populations (KAPs) (including sex workers men who have sex with men, people living with HIV, transgender, and people who use drugs) are being left behind. Crucially there is the need to involve KAPs and address the stigma and discrimination which they face, including punitive government policies.
More information about the conference can be found here.